Fixin’ for Love

CMU-1029 was a hulking, tank-thick medical droid. It lumbered at twelve feet tall, mostly proportional to a human, covered in chipped and scratched white paint. The red cross on its back was taking heavy fire, but it had to protect Rob. The mechanic had taken a shot just above his knee, a projectile meant to damage battle mechs. There was nothing but blood and ripped muscle below the thigh. The two of them were too exposed at the peak of the turret camp.

Rob had repaired 1029 six times in the field, fourteen times in the hangar bay, and provided thirty-two maintenance service checks in the span of fifty-two days. 1029 concluded that Rob had looked over it even before it was self-aware.

It scanned the frozen, yellow cratered terrain. Two hundred and eleven feet down the slope, ninety-one feet left. The medical bot scooped Rob up and ran its course to the best spot of concealment and cover. Most of the ice either exploded or melted around the battlefield, depending on which weapons were being used. 1029’s right leg was creaking loose, but it changed its priorities to keep Rob safe.

It ran behind heavier combat units and their maintenance crews. 1029 saw multiple injuries on the other pilots, but Rob was more important. Not imperative to the battle in any way, but 1029 cared about him. It wasn’t supposed to, but it did.

A heavy projectile slammed into 1029’s side, and as it caught its balance, another shot hit just under its left armpit. The machine forced extra algorithms to regain balance from losing its arm.

1029 slid behind the cover it planned for. Its right knee twisted beyond Rob’s abilities to fix. Even if it felt pain, it would’ve been nothing if Rob died. The scruffy young man rolled out of reach. 1029 crawled through the yellow, ashy snow on its two arms and one good leg. It wished it could talk, just to comfort Rob.

It noticed Rob staring at it. Through the pained expression, 1029 registered confusion. He asked, “What are you doing?”

It crawled on its side until it laid beside Rob. It examined the thick blood trail leading to Rob’s stub.

“I can’t fix you 1029.”

It didn’t care. The machine ran its inventory. The anesthetic tank was ruptured, its cauterizing plate couldn’t heat up to peak performance, and the last of the morphine was in its severed arm.

1029 received an order: RETURN TO FRONT LINE. TWO MECHANICS DOWN. It couldn’t fight its orders. It rolled on its side and sat up. Two GPS dots popped up in its heads-up display.

The white tank rolled forward like a tire until it got to its arm. Rob needs me. 1029 hacked its own programming, and rolled its way back to Rob.

The communications officers off planet tried to override 1029, but it fought back. It sprayed the last of the anesthetic to Rob’s stub, injected another booster shot to fight any alien infections, and rerouted critical battery power to the cauterizing plate.

The officers began to upload a virus to 1029. The machine tore into its severed arm until it found a morphine syringe. The virus took root as the morphine went into Rob. 1029 reached behind its head and tore out its communications router.

Rob’s eyes were starting to close. 1029’s functions were beginning to cripple. Cauterization heat at one hundred degrees Celsius. The robot shoved the hot plate to Rob’s stub, followed by an instant scream.

1029 fought to keep its visual functions. As its limb and diagnostics froze into paralysis, it fought to make sure Rob was okay. The mechanic passed out, but 1029 couldn’t tell if it was from shock, or death.

Everything went black. Rob.



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